The tablet market is still wide open and Microsoft has had time to watch, learn and get its offering right. Last week’s launch of the new tablet devices, the Windows RT and the Surface for Windows 8 Pro, fits into its wider story about Windows 8, which centres on the company’s ‘screen agnostic’ commitment to offer a unified experience across phone, tablet and computer.
The tablets use the same Metro user interface as the latest Windows phones, which lends itself really well to touch screen. It offers a great, living experience, delivered by the on-screen widgets and feels very active, in contrast to the more passive experience of using an iPad. But, beyond that, they’ve revealed a keyboard that looks really interesting – it isn’t heavy and should make the device even more attractive to a wider market.
The lack of freedom to create content - documents, drawings, presentations and so on – is the Achilles heel of Apple’s iPad. These tablets, by contrast, are designed for creating, not just consuming – a bit like Samsung’s Note, only with a larger 10.6” screen.
Apple has just updated its operating system - now iOS6 - announcing the Passbook mobile payments app, a huge focus on voice control and the replacement of Google Maps. We are yet to hear from Microsoft on how Xbox will be integrated, and about developments in the Barnes and Noble relationship, which could see them propel themselves to the fore in mobile gaming and publishing.
There’s also a huge opportunity for Microsoft to give RIM a run for its money and own the corporate market – especially given that security is, as is usual with Microsoft, top of the agenda. But it will certainly also appeal to creative-types too. It will be really easy for any Microsoft user to get stuck into the tablet.
For advertisers, this brings the added complexity of another device to consider, but also widens the opportunity to reach a new and different audience through an interesting and engaging channel. Microsoft is trusted by many consumers at large, and its tablets could be the device of the business world before the year is out.
We welcome these releases – it is fantastic to see Microsoft bringing computer, tablet and smartphone seamlessly to market at the same time. Offering two devices, with different specs and, we expect, high and low-end pricing options, means they will be a viable competitor across tablet the market.
By Carl Uminski, chief operating officer, Somo